Fear and Public Speaking

In a recent survey published in my new book, The No Fear Entrepreneur, I found that of those who completed the project, 64.4% stated that fear of public speaking was one of their primary fears.

Why on earth would an individual feel such a deep, gut-wrenching, and sometimes almost incomprehensible fear of public speaking? Before we trivialize this fear, that individual who fears public speaking may fear the loss of identity that attaches to performing poorly, and that is very deeply rooted in our core survival needs.

In trying to understand the roots to this type of fear as well as some of the irrational spaces that this fear can take us in our heads, I discovered that Gavin De Becker had provided some vital understanding to this common, deep fear.

Here is what he said in his book, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence.

For all social animals, from ants to antelopes, identity is the pass card to inclusion, and inclusion is the key to survival. If a baby loses its identity as the child of his or her parents, a possible outcome is abandonment. For a human infant, that means death. As adults, without our identity as a member of the tribe or village, community or culture, a likely outcome is banishment and death. So the fear of getting up and addressing five hundred people at the annual convention of professionals in your field is not just the fear of embarrassment—it is linked to the fear of being perceived as incompetent, which is connected to the fear of loss of employment, loss of home, loss of family, your ability to contribute to society, your value, in short, your identity and your life. Linking an unwarranted fear to its ultimate terrible destination usually helps alleviate that fear. Though you may find that public speaking can connect to death, you’ll see that it would be a long and unlikely trip.”  Gavin De Becker.

Doesn’t that rock the way you might be thinking about the fear of public speaking. In my opinion, he captures the essence of how far irrational thinking can take a person if it goes unchecked.

De Becker’s insight has cause me to think and at the same time has re-affirmed my understanding that irrational, unfounded fears can stop you dead in your tracks.


Action Plan:

With that in mind, rather than give you an “Steps to Overcoming the Fear of Public of Public Speaking,” I would like for you to offer some solutions. Here is the question, What are some ways that a person can overcome their fear of public speaking?

I am looking forward to your wisdom through your comments.






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